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iPods at War 364

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-are-you-listening-to-soldier dept.
phaedo00 writes "Ars Technica has put together an outstanding piece of journalism about the use of personal technology in America's military and how these devices along with blatant piracy is causing new problems in the face of war: "While soldiers once deployed with little more than a backpack and a rifle, today's crop of infantry troops pack along MP3 players, digital cameras, DVD players, video games, movie collections, and computers of their own. The personal electronics have made modern American warfare the most comfortable it has ever been, but they've also brought a new set of problems onto the battlefield.""
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iPods at War

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:30PM (#15950132) Journal
    I'm all for the criticism of the United States military. Or even the government. But it really angries up my blood when someone (who's probably never been in a war) criticizes a soldier who's trying to enjoy what may be the last months of his or her life.

    I haven't heard any anecdotal stories about "so and so would still be alive if he hadn't been listening to his iPod." Or people's personal devices interfering with a mission. I think the number one weapon against the United States military is the IED (Improvised Explosive Devices). And these things blow up without warning. If you're super alert or playing a DS Lite in your vehicle, it's not going to make a difference when one of those things go off.

    The loss of USB drives with sensitive data happens here at home, is it a surprise it happens at war?

    Furthermore, if a soldier wants to play Counter Strike during his or her off-time in his or her tent, why not? If there's a surprise attack, there's not going to be much difference whether they were playing football, reading a book or playing counter strike. Human beings are distracted naturally and this is necessary, you can't ask someone to concentrate on war 100% of the time.

    Our troops aren't just fighting for Democracy, they're also fighting for stable economies & developed infrastructures. I don't think it looks bad if they have gadgets and bells and whistles along with them while they're at war. These are some of the things they're fighting for them and their children to keep.

    I would speculate that if you took away these devices that reminded them of home and society, their performance and morale would probably drop. I believe the USO show was designed to distract soldiers from the horrors of the war they fought, let them have an iPod if it does just that even better.

    Ars Technica has put together an outstanding piece of journalism about the use of personal technology in America's military...
    "Outstanding"?! It's an interesting piece but I'd hardly call it 'outstanding' or even credible journalism. Just an interesting thing to consider.
    • by mobby_6kl (668092) on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:44PM (#15950234)
      So, what is this about again? You, as a subscriber, obviously had a head start on the article, but I'm not sure you actually read it. Where does it (the article) criticize the soldiers? It does mention a few people who do mention a few downsides to the whole gadget situation, but that's about it. Otherwise it simply describes the situation in the Iraq/Afghanistan bases.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The article states a few times that certain people aren't blaiming the soldiers. But if you read the article, it seems a lot of people are saying the soldiers shouldn't be enjoying themselves.
        • by SEAL (88488) on Monday August 21, 2006 @02:18PM (#15950431)
          Soldiers are going to entertain themselves one way or another. Everyone needs an escape for at least a little while when they are in such a stressful environment. Let them play their video games. If there's an attack on the base, guys who were playing some games will be much more alert than if they were smoking weed or drinking heavily.
          • by SEAL (88488) on Monday August 21, 2006 @02:49PM (#15950728)
            Not that I usually care about how a post is moderated - hell mod me Flamebait I don't care. But if you're going to mod me redundant, try choosing a post that actually is?

            Give me a break - I read the comments and no one else mentioned soldiers abusing drugs, which was a definite problem in Vietnam. Still an issue? Sure. But it's less of one now, because the soldiers have other outlets for their stress.
          • by Caldeso (912961) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:58PM (#15951254)
            Soldiers are going to entertain themselves one way or another

            Suggested techniques for the marine to use in the avoidance of boredom and loneliness: Masturbation. Rereading of letters from unfaithful wives and girlfriends. Cleaning your rifle. Further masturbation. Rewiring Walkman. Arguing about religion and meaning of life. Discussing in detail, every woman the marine has ever fucked. Debating differences, such as Cuban vs. Mexican, Harleys vs. Hondas, left- vs. right-handed masturbation. Further cleaning of rifle. Studying of phillipino mail order bride catalogue. Further masturbation. Planning of marine's first meal on return home. Imagining what a marine's girlfriend and her man Jody are doing in the hay, or in the alley, or in a hotel bed.

      • GP wasn't out of line - but neither was ARS. ARS is basically reporting that "piracy" which is touted as a crime worse than murder these days by the RIAA/MPAA is actually one of the few comforts that soldiers putting their lives on the line for us (for who knows what, but still, for us) have - sometimes in their last minutes of their lives.

        ARS has always been a pretty heavy critic of the RIAA/MPAA and their anti-piracy rants (they recently ran an article about how the RIAA is moving on from online piracy to "playground piracy" - kids sharing their CDs with eachother - as the number one threat to the industry) and I believe this particular article is showing that if every copyright law paid for by the RIAA were followed, the soldiers may have a modicum less of the comforts of home to enjoy while on the front lines.

        For me, a little piracy for our men and women in uniform is just fine, and any person attempting to crack down on a soldier for playing their IPOD over the loudspeaker for the enjoyment of their fellow soldiers as an illegal peformance under US copyright law is a traitor to this country and the men and women defending it.
        • by vivin (671928) <vivin@paliath.gmail@com> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @06:24AM (#15954424) Homepage Journal
          Thank you, kind sir for putting it in perspective.

          Piracy is the least of our concerns here. In fact, piracy is mostly the ONLY way we are able to get music and movies to bring a little comfort into our lives. I'm stationed in Iraq now, and have been so for the past 10 months. Let me tell you - we soldiers swap movies and music amongst ourselves all the time. The PX'es have a small selection of music and movies, and so we turn to other avenues (like swapping music and movies) or buying pirated CD's and DVD's from Iraqis. We can get whole TV series (Babylon 5, Sopranos, Simpsons) and if they are DVD rips, the quality is pretty good. We can even get movies when they're still in theater - of course, the copy is pretty crappy, but sometimes it'll do. Piracy is rampant here and I wonder if the RIAA knows about it. To put it quite simply, none of us are really bothered - we're mostly trying to make sure we stay alert and alive. To be honest, I find that if I hear some music from a band/artist I like, I buy their CD's. For example, I recently got a song or two by Death Cab For Cutie from my friend. I liked their music, so I bought their CD.

          I'm waiting for the day when the *AA sends their representatives into the battlefield to make sure piracy isn't running wild amongst the troops - I'd laugh. I wonder if they'd have the balls to do that or to prosecute soldiers/marines/seamen/airmen who are simply trying to make their lives a little more comfortable.
    • by lawpoop (604919)
      I have no military experience, but just from my experience being mugged and pick-pocketed, it seems really out of touch to think that a person who is patrolling a war zone doesn't have enough concentration or survival instinct to be running at 110% attention, regardless of gameboys and ipods.
    • by Amouth (879122)
      "trying to enjoy what may be the last months of his or her life"

      you have to watch out with that comment.. as more active duty soilders die durring peace time than war do to things like drunk driving and the so forth..

      take at look at the stats for the gulf war.. beeing at war was safer than being at home..
    • by teslar (706653)

      Our troops aren't just fighting for Democracy, they're also fighting for stable economies & developed infrastructures.

      I think there are entire essays that could be written in response to this so very American comment, a lot of them centering on the words 'oil' and 'selfish interests', but that would be quite offtopic.

      Instead, I agree with you, naturally, that soldiers should have comfort, but FFS, there are limits. Take your ipod, your DVD player, your game consoles, that's all fine. Have good food, hav

      • by FiveDollarYoBet (956765) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:01PM (#15950834)
        Been back from Iraq for less than a year. We lived in steel containers with windows, a door and an AC unit cut into the sides. Our water tank was outside and non-potable so you didn't shower if you had a cut. In the winter the water was cold. In the summer it was too hot to shower after 7AM. About half the guys in my platoon had laptops. All but a few had iPods.

        It's nice to be able to listen to some tunes or play some NCAA with the AC going full blast when it's 130F outside. You do it to try to bring back a feeling of normality. You know that in two hours you're going out for a patrol and you know that your sector is averaging an IED every other day but for that short time beforehand you can almost imagine that you're back home.

        Is a $3000 plasma screen excessive? An entire DJ booth over the top? In my opinion yes, but to that soldier it's probably still not enough to make them feel like they were home.

        One thing of note.... the PX who supplies most of the crap that soldiers buy is a monopoly. They stock that $3000 plasma that a buck private probably can't afford knowing that they'll take the money and run. In my opinion they were bigger cheats than the Haji shop on base that tried to sell you Rodex watches.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:28PM (#15953494)
          I'm currently stationed at one of the nicer bases in Iraq and I have to say that this article was pretty unfounded. Most of the references were ARS members and I think some of them have exagerated the circumstances of the deployment a bit (spending 7k on a network infrastructure and surfing p0rn on "Niprnet"-unsecure internet). To put the situation in perspective, most service members work at least 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. While many are not patrolling streets (I myself don't), we do spend an extraordinary amount of time engaged in work that can't be done with all the frills of electronic gadgetry. And when we do get time off, I think that you will find that many service members pursue one hobby or another. You have to remember that most service members view the military as a temporary position; a stepping stone to another life. I use my Alienware Laptop as a ASP.NET server environment, and practice my C# in my off time. I have a friend who is writing a book on his laptop. What about the 200 Marines and Soldiers I see in the Gym with their iPods getting fit? I might add that physical endurance, computer knowledge and writing skills directly translate to military occupational proficiency.

          But on top of that, nobody tells you (Americans) how to spend your time. I find most military members are a sight more industrious than the average American. Look at the amount of overweight Americans. Look at the amount of Americans that spend over 6 hours of day playing their favorite MMORPG Now think about the amount of Americans that exercised for more than 4 hours this week.

          I completely agree with FiveDollarYoBet about this issue. AAFES (the company running the PX's) have programs to suck that hard earned cash out of the hands of service members. They provide payment packages to buy Harleys, convertibles, diamond engagement rings, etc. before you even get back to the United States. The ARS complained about service members taking advantage of cheap shipping from the states, but fail to see that we have no alternative to the store trying to sell garbage to us. There was also a complaint about the copy written material being distributed by the locals aka "Haji" (which is an improper reference to an Arab. It literally means a muslim that performed the Haj, a pilgrimage to Mecca, one of the pillars of islam). The locals selling this material are truely benefiting from it, more so than the RIAA and the MPAA. But you have to ask yourself where they get the material (where the rest of the world gets theirs, P2P). I also need to mention that US Customs agents are responsible for screening these items, so they don't make it back to the states. So if you have complaints, take it up with them.

          The last thing I want to say is that I'm tired of people assuming they know what the other side of the fence is like. People not associated with the military will not understand military life. People who don't enjoy technology will not understand the "slashdot culture". We've all been affected by unfounded judgement, so why rush to place it on someone else?
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by saskboy (600063)
      I think Improvised Explosive Dells are a more serious concern for both the military and the general public.

      It's a sad comment on the condition of humanity when we see youths describing how they turned up their MP3 player while "killing the enemy" in Iraq. There's a horrible scene in Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" when a solider starts singing "The roof is on fire... we don't need no water let the [mellonfarmer] burn, burn [mellonfarmer].. burn!" to describe his work from the past days. But as he or a com
      • by spun (1352) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `yranoituloverevol'> on Monday August 21, 2006 @02:31PM (#15950543) Journal
        Especially when you are quoting source material that actually uses the word, like so:

        "Fuck fuckity fuck fuck fuck. What's the big fuckin' deal?"

        Other things you probably shouldn't say. Like Donkey raping shit-eater. You definitely shouldn't say donkey raping shit-eater on slashdot. People could get offended if you mentioned donkey raping shit-eaters.

        Mellonfarmer? Come on. What's the point of shit like that? What are you, some kinda smegma licking pussy? Everyone knows what you mean, it's not like people don't make the fucking mental translation instantly, you haven't sheilded their tender, innocent brains from having to process and comprehend "that word."

        Sorry, sorry, that was kind of a rangent (that's a rant off on a tangent...) But if you learned anything from all this, it's that you shouldn't mention donkey raping shit-eaters on slashdot.
    • Our troops aren't just fighting for Democracy, they're also fighting for stable economies & developed infrastructures.

      Have you picked up a newspaper lately? Half a million Iraqi citizens dead, infrastructure (that we destroyed) still massively broken despite billions upon billions of dollars being forked over to government contractors, and currently the country is essentially in the midst of civil war; you've got your warlords, and now there are Iraqi police departments turning into gangs. The coun

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Have you picked up a newspaper lately? Half a million Iraqi citizens dead, infrastructure (that we destroyed) still massively broken despite billions upon billions of dollars being forked over to government contractors, and currently the country is essentially in the midst of civil war; you've got your warlords, and now there are Iraqi police departments turning into gangs. The country is in complete, total, utter chaos.

        I didn't say who's economy, democracy or infrastructure they were fighting for :)

        el

    • Parent brings up many good points. I don't think someone has a right to criticize the military unless they've been a part of it, even for a little bit. The only way to really know something is to experience it first hand. Otherwise you run the risk of the straw-man fallacy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by x2A (858210)
        "I don't think someone has a right to criticize the military unless they've been a part of it"

        That's absolute crap. Intelligent humans have this ability called "conjecture", that allows them to make informed judgements about things based on their own, different experiences. Now, maybe your experiences will be different enough to mean that judgements can be made poorly, but that's not always the case, there are 'universals' that people can discover by themselves without having to experience the thing ("I'm n
    • My uncle was in the Blackwatch before Viet Nam and participated in wargames with the US soldiers. He said he wasn't suprised the US lost vietnam because it was so easy to take out yanks because you could hear em for miles with their transistor radios. They were easy to track and they never heard you coming.

      I think if there is a possibility it's going to be your last days on earth if you fsck up, well you'd better put down the toys and face it head on like a man and maybe survive. The enemy sure ain't playi
    • Did you read the article? If it had any bias, it is PRO leasure devices in iraq. You basically just repeated his key points in a more angry tone.. Infact the last line of the article pretty much sums up the neutrality the author was going for:

      "Like so many tech stories, the equipment here is morally neutral--it's the way its used that makes the difference."

      The only thing I read as a negative was how the iraqies *MAY* be jealous as they can't even operate cooking stoves -or whatever- while these soldiers get

  • by yagu (721525) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ugayay]> on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:31PM (#15950140) Journal

    From the fine article, first page, a paragraph:

    The entertainment industry has yet to sue soldiers in Iraq for copyright infringement, but perhaps it should if it's serious about stopping piracy. An MP in Afghanistan, who goes by the forum handle SirEverlast, tells Ars, "Every country I've been to has disregarded the MPAA and sold bootleg DVDs that soldiers buy for next to nothing."

    First, please let this be tongue in cheek on the author's part (I'm assuming it is).

    That aside, it's an interesting notion. Yeah, let the MPAA and RIAA go after the piracy of media by soldiers afield. The stipulation would be that the RIAA and MPAA must confront the accused personally, i.e., make them go the active front... after all, they've claimed they themselves are engaged in a war. What better way to experience that reality?

    Anyway, if you've read Joseph Heller's Catch 22, soldiers' ingenuity to make their insane world a little more liveable is Milo Minderbinder redux. More power to them for making it through.

    • by RingDev (879105) on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:59PM (#15950304) Homepage Journal
      When I was in the military, prior to the days of bit-torrents, we had tons of "pirated" audio/video. On one network we had a server that reached 750 gigs of mp3s. It became almost competetive to see who could add the most music to it. The whole thing got wiped shortly before my EAS, for use in a new data storage system.

      The thing about the military is that you have a large number of young men with a disposable income (ie: food, housing, medical care, and transportation are all provided). Sure, it's not much of an income, but when you don't have to spend money on rent, you cand stretch $14,400 a year pretty far on entertainment goodies(that was my salary as an E4 in 2001).

      -Rick
    • by iamlucky13 (795185) on Monday August 21, 2006 @02:00PM (#15950324)

      Another thing about Catch 22 is that it showed how the first contention of the article, that soldiers used to go to battle with nothing more than a rifle and a backpack isn't true. Remember Orr, Yossarian's tent-mate? He was always adding stuff to the tent. Basically everytime he came into a scene, he was either being shot down or trying to get the gas stove working better. Or consider the show MASH. Hawkeye's tent was full of "luxury" items. Ok these are fictional accounts, but based on non-fiction accounts I've read, I'd be willing to bet they were pretty close the real case in terms of personal possessions...at least for units that stayed in one place for any significant amount of time.

      Here's another good paragraph

      Ana Marie Cox argued that soldiers' expectations of war are now so shaped by movies and video games that they are unable to experience a conflict in any other way. They want to see battle as pure action, devoid of context, full of simple goals and explosions, and so when they put together music videos of their time in Iraq (and most home videos do feature music), they tend to unconsciously echo the movies and games they've seen and played.

      I'm more inclined to think it goes the other way: movies and video games are unable to depict conflict any other way than by focusing on the action, only filling in the context sufficiently to give the viewer/gamer a plausible plot. Except for fans of the movie Jarhead, nobody is very much fascinated by the mundane elements of war: cleaning your rifle, trying to stay awake through guard duty, cleaning your rifle, doing PT, cleaning your rifle, cleaning the latrines, cleaning your rifle. Audiences expect 5 minutes of that, then a lot of shooting and heroism.

      Consider amatuer movies at home. For example, the obligatory end-of-the-season high school football team music video recap. It's all clips of tackles, touchdowns, passes, field goals, pranks during scrimmage, etc. Nobody's interested in the time spent running around the track, doing calistenics, sitting on the bench, and especially not sitting in class trying to maintain acedemic elegibility.

      Furthermore, we really are talking about amatuer's here, putting together simple recaps. They're not master storytellers. They don't have the time or luxury of putting together complex narratives, and since they're only sharing this with friends and family, they don't need complex expositions making it clear to the viewer that this is so-and-so's involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom.

      Yeah, let the MPAA and RIAA go after the piracy of media by soldiers afield.

      Actually, let them go after the parties offering the goods for sale. As I understand, the lawyers interest is not as much in the receivers as the providers. Please, go confront Abdul about his copying CD's to sell to the GI's. A flak jacket might be a good a better idea than a briefcase, though.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)
        Even though I doubt the **AA would ever knowingly go after a member of the Armed Forces (because of the bad press), if they did, that soldier would be fscked.

        Generally speaking, the punishment is worse for a soldier commiting just about any crime than if (s)he were a civilian. Now take that same soldier & put them in an active theater of operations and that punishment is even harsher.

        I'd really hate to be the first soldier that gets accidentally pinged by the **AA, because someone up your chaing of comm
  • Iraq (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:32PM (#15950149)
    I'm in Iraq and having no problems surfing Slashdot while under fire.

    In fact, bullets aren't even coming clo...^C^C^C^C^C No route to host.
  • by sugapablo (600023) on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:32PM (#15950156) Homepage
    ...and see them sue some soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan. :)

    Somehow I think Orrin Hatch [wikipedia.org] would shit a brick of confusion over how to react
  • Good. No more Perry Como forced down our soldier's throats (ala Good Morning Vietnam).. they get to hear the music they bring, and they share in what other soldiers bring too.
  • Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GundamFan (848341) on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:35PM (#15950175)
    I would never deny a little bit of humanizing recreation to our troops. Maybe it is being so de-humanized in a very high stress life or death situation lead to things like PTSD and prisoner abuse scandals.

    If you are willing to get shot at, I am willing to let you play playstation and listen to music on you off hours without any objection from me.
    • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dr_dank (472072) on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:46PM (#15950242) Homepage Journal
      I get a little miffed at these puff pieces trying to paint the picture of our troops living in the lap of luxury in air conditioning and a barrack full of geek toys that rivals an aisle at Best Buy. Many troops out on the lines sweat their balls/ovaries off in tents in the sweltering heat, fight the fine sand that gets into their gameboys and damn near everywhere else, and face the looming threat of being splattered by a homemade bomb.

      I'm glad that our troops can be entertained in this fashion and that some can get stationed in places with all kinds of creature comforts, but trying to paint a picture (paraphrasing Dave Barry) of the place as a glorified college dormatory is disingenious at best.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by gibbsjoh (186795)
        I get a little miffed when your soldiers invade another country. Forgive me if I don't get too upset when they get "splattered by a homemade bomb." Your troops still have it a hell of a lot better than the people who they've invaded, and who can blame the "insurgents" for turning to violence to repel the people who've taken over their country? If I recall, the Americans waged a guerilla war against the British too.

        There was a time when serving your country meant defending it against threat (ie NOT IRAQ!)...
        • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dr_dank (472072) on Monday August 21, 2006 @02:22PM (#15950461) Homepage Journal
          I get a little miffed when your soldiers invade another country. Forgive me if I don't get too upset when they get "splattered by a homemade bomb." Your troops still have it a hell of a lot better than the people who they've invaded, and who can blame the "insurgents" for turning to violence to repel the people who've taken over their country? If I recall, the Americans waged a guerilla war against the British too.

          While I agree that the US invasion was sold on lies and serves the interests of the rich and powerful while making the US no more safe, the troops don't get any say in where they're sent and do. They didn't get up one day and decide to take over Iraq, "secure" the oil, and install a puppet government. Those decisions were made by people who are so far insulated from the costs and horrors of the war that they might as well be on another planet.

          If you're going to take issue with somebody, point the finger at the assholes who sent them there, not the poor schmucks who are bound to do their dirty work if they have any hope of going to college.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by glesga_kiss (596639)

        I'm glad that our troops can be entertained in this fashion and that some can get stationed in places with all kinds of creature comforts

        What we need to be careful about however is the perception of this confort by for example the Iraqi people. That's been one of the big criticisms of the way Iraq has been handled. While the Iraqi's don't have clean water, working sewage and electricity, our troops were chilling in big palaces with all the latest toys. Many Iraqis compared them to Saddam.

        Of course, I'm

  • It's still war. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:35PM (#15950177) Homepage Journal
    The personal electronics have made modern American warfare the most comfortable it has ever been
    That's rather like saying we've invented a form of molten lead that's more comfortable to have poured onto you than normal common or garden variety molten lead. These soldiers aren't exactly enjoying an evening at Chuck E. Cheese, for pity's sake!
    • by krell (896769) on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:41PM (#15950211) Journal
      "These soldiers aren't exactly enjoying an evening at Chuck E. Cheese, for pity's sake!"

      Did you ever go to any of the last of the "old style" Chuck E Cheez's before they closed down? You know, the ones where you'd walk down a hall and look off to the side and there would be a huge auditorium, empty of humans, and on a stage was a band made of giant Elvis man-dog robots that shook and gyrated, with their crude mechanics making so much noise that the songs in the speakers couldn't even be heard? If this scene (and it was real) isn't as close as you can come to the future war with the robots, then nothing is.
      • > Did you ever go to any of the last of the "old style" Chuck E Cheez's before they closed down? You know, the ones where you'd walk down a hall and look off to the side and there would be a huge auditorium, empty of humans, and on a stage was a band made of giant Elvis man-dog robots that shook and gyrated, with their crude mechanics making so much noise that the songs in the speakers couldn't even be heard? If this scene (and it was real) isn't as close as you can come to the future war with the robots
      • by jeffy210 (214759) on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:58PM (#15950303)
        a band made of giant Elvis man-dog robots that shook and gyrated,


        You just brought back a very very bad childhood memory.
      • Hah, I used to work on a generic version of those beastly robots for a Chuck E. Cheese competitor. One time we had the furry coverings stripped off the whole set for maintainance. I still consider watching a band of animal-shaped Terminator endoskeletons sing happy kiddie songs on a loop for half an hour to be one of the best concerts I've ever been to.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:41PM (#15950213) Homepage Journal
    in Apocalypse now, " As long as our officers and troups (sic) perform tours of duty limited to one year, they will remain dilletantes in war and tourists in Vietnam. As long as cold beer, hot food, rock and roll and all the other amenities remain the expected norm, our conduct of the war will gain only impotence. (In the document, but not read aloud - The wholesale and indiscriminate use of firepower will only increase the effectiveness of the enemy and strengthen their resolve to prove the superiority of an agrarian culture against the world's greatest technocracy...The central tragedy of our effort in this conflict has been the confusion of a sophisticated technology with human commitment. Our bombs may in time destroy the geography, but they will never win the war...)...We need fewer men, and better; if they were committed, this war could be won with a fourth of our present force..."

    While I have been against the Iraq war from the begining, I wonder how much truth there is to this. Are short stints and relatively comfortable surroundings really not motivating the troops to do their job? A quote from Captain Willard: "Charlie didn't get much USO. He was dug in too deep or moving too fast. His idea of great R and R was cold rice and a little rat meat. He had only two ways home: death or victory."

    Just take the above quotes and replace "Vietnam" with "Iraq" and "Charlie" with the insurgency and you have quotes that apply as much to this war as it did 'Nam....
    • by brokeninside (34168) on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:48PM (#15950257)
      As the length of a war increases, the length of tours of duty increase and the likelihood that the war can be won decreases. The most effective fighting force is one of fresh troops who know that they will not be staying long. These troops have relatively high moral. The longer they stay in the theatre, the more demoralized they become and the less they care about the end of the war.
      • by daigu (111684) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:28PM (#15951057) Journal

        Sun Tzu wrote military strategies for armies just prior to the consolidation of states during what is now called the Warring States period. Machiavelli wrote in the hopes of a Prince that his strategies would enable a Prince to unify Italy under a single government - despite the fact he preferred a republican form of government. Neither is particularly insightful on guerilla warfare.

        You want to know how the U.S. government approaches this kind of war? Try reading the manuals that the CIA [fas.org], Marine Corps [fas.org], U.S. Army [fas.org] and others have put together on the topic.

        While these are fairly large to summarize, let's just say that comments like these are not unusual:

        Because America retains significant advantages in fires and surveillance, a thinking enemy is unlikely to choose to fight U.S. forces in open battle. Opponents who have attempted to do so, such as in Panama in 1989 or Iraq in 1991 and 2003, have been destroyed in conflicts that have been measured in hours or days. Conversely, opponents who have offset America's fire and surveillance advantages by operating close to civilians and news media, such as Somali clans in 1993 and Iraqi insurgents in 2005, have been more successful in achieving their aims. This does not mean that counterinsurgents do not face open warfare. Insurgents resort to conventional military operations if conditions seem right, in addition to using milder means such as nonviolent political mobilization of people, legal political action, and strikes.

        My point is that this is not an issue of fresh troops and a quick in and out strategy. Winning these kinds of wars means living with people, sharing their lives and commitment. It is very much what the original poster was getting at that it requires a completely different frame of reference to "win" a conflict like this one and the military is only one part of many that needs to be brought into play - and they need to think about their jobs differently as these manuals will attest.

        While it is possible to use a strategy like the Romans did with their legions where you have quick strike capability (by building roads) that maintains a certain level of discipline throughout an empire, this was used in conjunction with other political and social strategies. Ultimately, it was Rome's dependence on the legions and the use of mercenaries that eventually was the undoing of that empire - a lesson the U.S. would do well to learn.

    • Nice dissection of a quote and idea from a movie, but I don't see how that works at all. How successful a war is or how long it takes isn't really up to the soldiers but to the commanders planning things out. Look up the chain of command if you have a problem. A soldier or squad is sent out to do a task. For example: protect location A, or go to location B and kill any faction C you find. They accomplish their task and get sent out on another one. Maybe they should have stayed longer and setup a prese
    • I'm not sure the point is relevant here.

      You can't make troops more committed to the battle by taking away amenities; all that's going to do is make them less committed, less trusting of their command structure, and less eager to risk their lives. It's the "we'll stop beating you when morale improves" school of leadership, and it only works when you're trying to get people to do mindless manual labor, under close supervision. In short, you can't make good soldiers through force or coercion.

      A more general for
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "Just take the above quotes and replace "Vietnam" with "Iraq" and "Charlie" with the insurgency and you have quotes that apply as much to this war as it did 'Nam"

      Hardly. And if you only care about dead soldiers and not dead anybody else, or if you only care about US killed civilians and not terrorist killed civillians or .....

      The conflict in Iraq is NOTHING like 'Nam, unless you are a peace and surrender at any cost type. You remember Chamberlain? ("I have a piece of paper")

      The people we are fighting agains
    • by dr_canak (593415)
      I speak with returning vets on an almost daily basis,

      "While I have been against the Iraq war from the begining, I wonder how much truth there is to this. Are short stints and relatively comfortable surroundings really not motivating the troops to do their job?"

      While the conditions may be more tolerable than, say a WWI trench, I don't think US soldiers consider their conditions "comfortable" by any stretch of the word. The word "comfortable" may come up in casual conversation, but would not be a word most w
    • in the animated Superman to two supervillians that seemed to dispatch Superman.

      To paraphrase: If the **AA starts suing soldiers on the front, I will *persoanlly* lead the mob that takes down the **AA offices wherever they may stand.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      if they were committed, this war could be won with a fourth of our present force...
      You: "therefore we should ban all iPods and XBoxes for US troops!"

      Me: "therefore we should not enter wars which neither the troops or the nation at large have any real reason to sacrifice for."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by monopole (44023)
      Are you out of your honking mind?

      First off, most personnel are on their 3rd to 4th tour of duty, a circumstance unprecedented in recent history. Soldiers in WWII, Vietnam, and Korea had shorter tours of duty and a defined endpoint to their enlistment. With stop loss and arbitrary callup of the IRR, soldiers are forced to stay on or get called back up long past their existing commitments. Second, wheras soldiers in Vietnam could pull R&R in Siagon without excessive fear of harm, most units are presently
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sgtrock (191182)
      Kurtz was wrong on several counts. "Apocalypse Now" was a hell of a movie, but it disregarded a hell of a lot of facts to tell a story.

      Let me state for the record that I think the war in Iraq should have been fought, but we fought it for all the wrong reasons. Saddam needed to be booted out, and should have been in '91 when we had a better force for the purpose on the ground. Failing that, Saddam's wilful flaunting of all of the UN sanctions combined with the wholesale slaughter of his own people demande
  • Who needs body armor when you're carrying around all those gadgets? Everyone knows that bullets only hit small things in your pockets or under your shirt anyway and that they always get stopped by it just in the nick of time. The more stuff our soldiers carry, the better!
  • by redelm (54142) on Monday August 21, 2006 @01:48PM (#15950261) Homepage
    The RIAA & MPAA going after soldiers is a farce: I seriously doubt the US military command would tolerate any such attack against them. It's actually easy enough to render legal: the US govt has the power and authority to use any patents, copyrights and trademarks however it wishes with impunity. An argument could be made they already have by failing to block ports/sites.

    People who've never been deployed and only seen movies don't realize that soldiering is 99% boredom and 1% sheer terror. It is just as important (maybe more) to handle the boredom as the terror.

    • by lelitsch (31136)
      You know, the image of some RIAA invetigators going to a firebase in Baghdad, Mossul or anywhere else in Iraq to try and take iPod with pirated songs from a bunch of armed and pissed off Marines almost makes having the RIAA tax worthwhile.

      I'd even pay for Cary Sherman to fly there, get into a Land Rover and try take the iPod directly from the MTTs.

    • "People who've never been deployed and only seen movies don't realize that soldiering is 99% boredom and 1% sheer terror."

      Much like a network administrators job.

  • Just hook up those iPods to some speakers, and if you pick the right music, you can add psychological warfare to the physical weapons.

    Though the question is, will playing "Who Let the Dogs Out?" at high volume cause the insurgency to run away in terror, or try harder to destroy the iPod?
  • If the solders are picking up "cheap" cd's/dvd's, what are the chances they are also picking up "cheap" software? Wouldn't this software be a good way for the enemy to deliver viruses? Are command/control systems isolated enough from the solders personal electronics to prevent virus infections?

    • by kalirion (728907)
      I know what you mean. God forbid there's a Sony CD in there maskerading as a bootleg!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720)
      If the solders are picking up "cheap" cd's/dvd's, what are the chances they are also picking up "cheap" software?
      For that matter, what's preventing them from picking up "cheap" prostitues and a raging case of typhoid or syphilus?

      Are command/control systems isolated enough from the solders personal electronics to prevent virus infections?
      Yes.
  • "There's a fairly robust grey market run by the locals wherein a person can pick up movies which are still in theaters for a paltry $3.00," he says. "They aren't the best quality, usually, but things like series which have already been released (Sopranos, Buffy, FireFly) are also available at the $3.00/disk pricepoint and are ripped from the actual DVD sets. The quality of those items is right up there with the legitimate stuff, and all the stupid warnings and previews are usually done away with."

    God B

  • by RyoShin (610051) <tukaro.gmail@com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @02:09PM (#15950382) Homepage Journal
    "Raised on Nintendo and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies," Cox writes
    DiePilot, for one, isn't convinced by the argument. "[...] I don't act in real life like I do in a virtual world, because 1up mushrooms are scarce resources out here."
    You hear that, Sony? Our soldiers are trained by Nintendo!

    And the Wii will only make them even better shots. The smallest of the consoles, it will be the easiest to pack up and ship out. Using the Wiimote on a low sensitivity will help to better train hand-eye cordination, as well. (It will also server a double purpose with the DVD functionality.)

    So you better watch your back, or the console wars may become real wars...
  • by nightsweat (604367) on Monday August 21, 2006 @02:14PM (#15950405)
    They're pirating music! Call in the RIAA!

    Note: I'm not so much in favor of soldiers getting sued as I am in favor of soldiers with a grudge and souvenir rpg's visiting the riaa to rebut their arguments...
  • anyone who has been to ANY third world country, or anyplace where the USA is not the govt, will have noticed that $5 is all you need for any software...Windows XP Pro, Photoshop, or any game you can imagine. $5 is all you need for anything at all. Computer sellers outside the us make the money only on hardware, not software. So our Troops, stationed in a third world country, with hard currency, have access to this...so what ? I'm an American, but I know that the USA is not the world, and outside our bor
  • by Calso (838106) on Monday August 21, 2006 @02:22PM (#15950470)
    Many of the above entries have been quick to criticize the article as negatively portraying troops as tech-addicted consumer whores or even implying that we should deprive soldiers of morale boosting comforts. The author painted these perhaps unflattering portraits of American soldiers enjoying Counterstrike and porn to illustrate that these are aspects of the American lifestyle that we aggressively defend. The amount of posters who have apparently ignored this main argument to defend the after hours activities of troops shows just how much we hold our gadgets dear to us. I love playing an online FPS, watching porn, and listening to my iPod as much as my fellow countrymen, but it seems crass to have these icons rise to the forefront of American ideals and Democracy. It creates a bit of dissonance with those commericals featuring Marines single-handedly slaying lava monsters (unless most Marines are really into WoW or something). Anyway, the author made the point that we need to re-examine our global image, especially as manifested through our fighting forces.
  • by nmaster64 (867033) on Monday August 21, 2006 @02:45PM (#15950687)
    You heard it, the RIAA hates our troops. That's just un-American...

    I say we invade the RIAA next...
  • by Secrity (742221) on Monday August 21, 2006 @02:54PM (#15950769)
    GI's had portable phonographs in World War 1 (although they weren't carried in the field).

    In World War 2, the troops had "foxhole" (crystal) radios, the detector was a razor blade and safety pin. There were many AC and DC powered radios. AFRTS started broadcasting during World War 2. There were also portable phonographs.

    I am not sure what the GI's used during the Korean Conflict because transistor radios hadn't been introduced yet; they would have had phonographs, they may have carried battery operated tube type radios.

    In Vietnam, transistor radios and tape players were carried in the field. MANY GI's came home from Vietman with high end stereos.

    During the Gulf War and Bosnia, there would have been portable radios, portable CD players and possibly still some portable cassette players.

    iPods and MP3 players were probably first used in Afghanistan.

    Now, during Iraqui Freedom and Afghanistan, the state of the technology includes iPods. Same idea, smaller devices.

  • Nothing new.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chanc_Gorkon (94133) <gorkon.gmail@com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @02:56PM (#15950783)
    This is not all that new. A friend of mine in college had a kick ass computer (a 386 when I had a 286) and had every game imagineable. All of which he got when in the military. One thing you have, if your single, when your on active duty is money. Yuo don't have to pay for clothes or food when your on active duty. Yuo still get paid and thus can buy alot of stuff at teh PX or on Amazon.com. Personally, I agree with others.....this war in Iraq is now about 3 years old and it's time for us to exit, or make sure we swap in fresh troops on a regular basis. Give the ones who have been out for a while a long leave. If this is impossible, then at least make the off duty hours comfortable.
  • by MBC1977 (978793) on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:47PM (#15951606) Journal
    Gents and Ladies,

    Regardless of what side of the coin you follow (democrat or republican, liberal or conservative), if you are not putting your
    life on the line don't criticize others that do. In addition, as to servicemembers allegedly listening to music or watching videos
    illegally, I would ask you to consider the morale factor. If you know you can possibly die at anytime, do you really think that we care
    (during our deployment in a hostile country) that the RIAA is going to come after us? Whatever my fellow servicemembers and I need to
    maintain our calm in a chaotic situation is what matters plain and simple. Because the simple matter is lives are at stake, namely ours.
    Irregardless of whether this war is a good or bad action to undertake.

    Another way I'll put is like this: If the RIAA wants to fight terrorism in Iraq before it comes to our shores, I'll gladly hand my M16A4
    over to one of the cushy (or pudgy in somecases) lawyers and they can stand post. I don't mind sitting on my ass collecting big checks from
    overpaid, overhyped artists (whom the majority can't sing or act anyway). At least I won't harrass dead people's families, college students,
    and children. (Not to mention, all that gear hurts my back any damm way).

    Regards,

    MBC1977
    (US Marine, College Student, and Good Guy)

    Please note: The following comment is personal and not an official US Marine statement
    • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Monday August 21, 2006 @06:19PM (#15952210)
      Regardless of what side of the coin you follow (democrat or republican, liberal or conservative), if you are not putting your life on the line don't criticize others that do.

      The problem is that public tax dollars are funding the whole mess. Just because the kids they send over there have been sold on a total lie, (being that the war has any positive moral qualities to it at all and is not largely a money scam/creepy apocalypse cult thing for Bush and friends), doesn't mean that I shouldn't speak my mind about it. In fact, I'd say that the exact opposite is true.

      Burglars, rapists and murderers also put their lives on the line in their chosen profession, but I'm certainly not going to withhold my criticism about them.

      Sorry. You may be a nice guy, and no doubt you are, but you are still carrying an automatic weapon in a land where you are not and never were wanted. There were no WMD's in Iraq, Saddam had nothing to do with 9-11, and Iraq is a lot worse off today than it was before the American invasion, and the only people benefiting are those selling weapons and oil, and they will keep the war running until the public finally threatens to hang the management. So why on earth are you playing pawn out there? If I were you, I'd get out right smart quick before I got hurt or before my brain short-circuited on too much negative stimulus.

      Best wishes and good luck to you!


      -FL

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Monday August 21, 2006 @05:54PM (#15952088)
    I guess we should do it like the good old days, no electronics, no games or toys, just beer and pot.
  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @09:23AM (#15955234)
    I remember when I was in the service the only weapons they gave us were old battle-scarred walkmans that could only play 99 Red Balloons. That was before they realized that batteries did not carry enough charge and desert sand played the mickey with tape-fed cartridges. Often you'd be hunkered down in the trenches, waiting for the whistle and cry to go 'over the top,' only to find that your tape had jammed.

    Then near the end of doing my bit, they rolled out slim players that needed only one battery and had special sand filters. They played, "Another One Bites the Dust," and were quite the thing. We put the Jerries to route with that number. A handful of the lads were equipped with odd prototypes that had no batteries or cartridges and got their songs from a computer, but we hard-bitten vets laughed and laughed and would never have gone to war with something like that.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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